When I first started trying my hand at portrait photography, my biggest roadblock by far was editing. My posing was fine (though I’ve come far) and I was shooting in manual, but I just wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I didn’t know how to manipulate my photo editing programs. It felt like some photographers just got it, and for some reason I sucked (haha). I wanted so badly to get that look the photographers I admired seemed to do so easily. It took a ton of trial and error, finding the right presets that worked for me, and editing thousands upon thousands of photos to get to where I am now.
— REAL STORY, I didn’t even know Lightroom existed and had been editing all my photos individually in Photoshop until a fantastic photographer in Santa Barbara taught me differently. #bless ❤️ —
I think people sometimes think that given a fancy DSLR camera, anyone can automatically be a professional photographer. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth! There is so much more that goes into producing beautiful and timeless images than pushing buttons on a device. Your post-processing is just as important as what you do in camera. It’s where your personal style and brand can shine through and set you apart from all the other photographers in your area! I recently went to a retreat in Utah and, after photographing a styled shoot with the other attendees, I was shocked at how differently we all edited the exact same couple in the exact same lighting and in the exact same pose! Regardless of if you fall more into the light and airy category or prefer a more hipster/moody look, these tips can help you fix some of the basic (but BIG) problems that you might face.
Here are 4 of my biggest tips to improving your editing and gaining a consistent style!
1. Correct your white balance.
This is my #1 tip for good reason!! I find that when photographers ask me for advice about editing, the biggest noticeable change I would make is for them to warm up their images. When I say “warm up” or “cool down”, I’m referring to the temperature slider in Lightroom. I tend to prefer warmer images because it helps correct skin tones and just bring life back into photos.
Here’s an example of the exact same image with the ONLY difference in the two edits being the white balance. Yup, that’s right! I only changed ONE thing and the photos appears completely different! You can tell that the one on the left seems tinged blue, especially in the whites of her dress and on her skin. By moving my lightroom slider more towards the yellow side, I’m able to bring back the whites to be a TRUE white.
*If you’re having trouble seeing if a white is a true white or tinged blue (it’s hard at first!), bring your slider overly to the right, and then back to where you were before. Going to one extreme and back helps your eyes sense how correct or incorrect your current white balance is.
2. Find the right level of brightness.
One of the biggest changes you can make to your photos is to adjust your exposure to either lighten or darken your photo! I tend to like my edits to be more clean and airy, so I usually adjust my exposure to be higher.
On the right is my photo bumped up +0.70 in exposure and the left is the exposure as shot in camera. A big difference from just a few clicks on my laptop!
3. Apply lens correction.
One of my favorite little hacks! Ever wonder how some photographers are able to get such clean-looking images? A big part of getting that look comes from using the lens correction option in Lightroom! If you like the light and airy look, applying lens correction can help get rid of any vignette distortion from your lens.
This photo example has the ONE change of going from a version without lens correction (on left) to turning on lens correction (on the right). I didn’t lay a finger on exposure, brightness, or whites!
4. Correct your tint.
Here’s another big one for me! I usually tweak my tint every time I start editing a different set of photos where I had to move to a new location. The color tint in a bride’s getting ready room may be slightly pink, causing me to move my slider closer to the green side, whereas photos taken on a green lawn will most likely put a greenish cast to my photos, prompting me to move my slider closer to the magenta side.
In this example photo, I was surrounded by pink-orange-tan-ish rocks (very scientific description, I know), making my model’s skin be way too magenta. I moved the slider to be slightly more green, and voila!
**My original photo was not THIS pink, but I wanted to make a point 😉
The Conclusion? A few small changes can make a BIG difference!
And now, for your viewing pleasure, here is the big “WOWZA” transformation where I compare my original edited photo (edited to my style) to one where I made the photo cooler, brought my exposure back to its original in-camera level, didn’t apply lens correction, and put on a magenta tint.
BOOM. I love a good before and after!
If you enjoyed this post, I have good news! I’m planning on writing many more educational posts so I can help photographers like YOU who are hoping to find a style they love and grow their business fast! Sign up below to get my Top 3 Tips on Soft, Dreamy Photos!